Sprint Planning
Agile Project Management Planning
June 05, 2022 - Jon A.

How to Plan an Agile Sprint in Software Development

Agile sprint planning gets a lot of things right. But most importantly, the sprint planning session helps turn your project goals into a step-by-step guide, making it easier for the scrum master to supervise and the product development teams to execute. Here is everything you need to know about Agile sprint planning.

What Is Sprint Planning?

The sprint planning meeting is an essential part of the agile scrum framework. It is an event organized by the scrum master and product development team to prioritize the product backlog items and complete the project in the most organized way, all while keeping the user or client within the loop. In simpler words, sprint planning helps set a predefined timebox event in which the scrum team will efficiently and effectively achieve the desired goal. Though the time can be of any length, most sprints have a shorter timebox, such as one or two weeks.

What Do You Do During Sprint Planning?

A standard Agile sprint planning meeting can last for at least one to three hours, depending on the length of the sprint. Conducted between the scrum master, product owner, product manager, and the development team, the results of the sprint planning meeting depend upon the previous sprint results, the definition of “done” (as defined by the scrum master), velocity, and the team capacity. Here is a brief overview of what happens during a sprint planning meeting:

Breakdown of User Story Points into Technical Tasks. User stories are typically informal descriptions of the user requirements. During the Agile sprint planning, the scrum team breaks down the story points into actual technical tasks.

Clarifying the Acceptance Criteria. The acceptable task level is also defined during the meeting. Even though it’s usually the product manager’s responsibility, clarifying the criteria is significant.

Refine the Definition of “Done”. The definition of done to outline to the Developers and the Quality Assurance experts the version of your final product at the end of the sprint.

Getting the Development Team on Board. While it’s the product owner’s job to help clarify the sprint plan, a significant part of the Agile development team is to give a plan on how to get the tasks done. They do this while analyzing the design system and their team capacity. The process includes self-organizing and breaking down the tasks into smaller units.

What Is a Sprint Release Plan?

A sprint release plan is a detailed document that describes when and how the scrum development team will release the product functionalities and features. The software development and design phase depend upon the feedback from the previous iterations to set the timeline, resources, and scope for each release. This helps in prioritizing the list of functionalities, ensuring an improved customer experience.

5 Tips for Effective Agile Sprint Planning

Here are some tips and tricks to improve your Agile sprint planning process:

Set the Sprint Goal

Coming up with a sprint goal is a vital part of Agile sprint planning. Note that the goal should be realistic, measurable, and specific. The discussion takes place between the development team and the product owner. Here are some questions to help you set your sprint goals: What should our end product look and work like? How can we achieve that goal? How should we test it to check if the goal is achieved or not?

Organize an Agile Planning Preparation Meeting

Though it’s a compulsion, a planning preparation meeting can help organize the discussion for the actual Agile sprint planning meeting. Conduct the meeting to ensure that the scrum team understands the project – problem and solution.

Prioritize Tasks

Once the sprint goal is set, it’s time to prioritize the tasks. Even though there is no right or wrong way to do this, the protip here is to have an active discussion between the scrum master and the product development team on the sprint backlog, story points, and team capacity.

Breakdown Tasks into Sub-Tasks

Now that the tasks have been created, it is time to break them down into small, achievable units. Doing so will help you reduce the complexity of the tasks that seem too challenging to be tackled on the whole. It will also divide the work, helping to ensure that each task can be completed within a day’s work.

###Even though it’s very difficult to plan out when every milestone or story will be tentatively completed. However, it is crucial to set due dates to keep the scrum team on track and evaluate progress. A schedule is especially useful to the testing team and external stakeholder communications.

Make Your Agile Sprint Planning Effective

By following these tips, at the end of the sprint planning sessions, you and your team members will have:

Agreed-upon and well-defined sprint goals. Commitment to a realistic sprint backlog. Detailed tasks for story points along with clear acceptance and estimation criteria. A better understanding of fixes and bugs and support work included in the sprint backlog. Pre-defined due dates and scheduled scrum meetings.

Now all you’ve got to do is work - Ready, set, sprint!